We kick off our ADIFF 2016 reviews with three from festival veteran Mick McGovern.
dir. Rebecca Miller – ★★★
Written and directed by Rebecca Miller, ‘Maggie’s Plan’ stars Great Gerwig as a young woman who comes up with a plan to have and raise a child on her own but this begins to go astray when she begins to fall for a professor, played by Ethan Hawke, who wishes to break out from the shadow of his more successful wife by writing a novel.
The film initially feels like every other middle class New York romantic comedy you’ve ever seen but after the first act the plot goes off in unexpected directions and there are plenty of laughs to be had if you’re willing to go with the flow. The cast all do solid work and add to the charm of the movie; Bill Hader, Maya Rudolph and Travis Fimmel in particular do solid supporting work and Julianne Moore decides to really ham it up and have some fun with her character, strange foreign accent and all.
Out in Irish Cinemas July 8th
dir. Joel & Ethan Coen – ★★★★
‘Hail, Caesar!’ deals with Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) a fixer for a Hollywood studio who has to deal with all the foibles of the creatives on and off the set but is pondering a change of career. When the lead of the biggest picture on the slate goes missing, Mannix has to spring in to action. The film has plenty of subplots going on, some work a lot better than others but all are at least interesting and enthralling.
The film plays a bit like a greatest hits of the Coen’s movies to me and feels just a little teeny tiny bit disappointing because of that but then again when every part of the movie is so beautifully realised (it looks and sounds incredible and is nearly always making you laugh) I shouldn’t really complain at all. Alden Ehrenreich completely steals the picture as the cowboy chosen by the studio to suddenly become a well-spoken romantic lead, and that’s a huge compliment when you see how good Brolin, Clooney, Fiennes and in particular Tilda Swinton are in this.
Out in Irish Cinemas March 4th
dir. Sebastián Silva – ★★
Nasty Baby concerns a gay video artist trying to conceive a baby with his friend through artificial insemination. When he finds out they’ve been unsuccessful because he has a low sperm count he asks his partner to become the donor, who it turns out has massive reservations about the whole process. While all this is playing out the trio are harassed by a mentally ill neighbour whose actions frustrate everyone on the block.
The first part of the film is a charming enough addition to now plentiful genre of low key indie dramedies that are charming without ever being funny, but towards the end the narrative takes such a jarring and violent turn that’s only very slightly hinted at throughout the first two acts. Whatever warmth or feeling you had towards the main characters immediately evaporates and then the movie ends with some weird disco end credits that’s even more of a jolt to what’s gone before that it leaves you unsure what the point of the whole thing was.
Out in Irish Cinemas April 8th